Nikki Giovanni honored with emerita status
December 15, 2022
Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of University Distinguished Professor Emerita by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The emerita title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive a copy of the resolution and a certificate of appreciation.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1987, Giovanni inspired a generation of people of color, especially young poets, and became an institution of American arts and letters. She has made countless contributions to poetry, African American literature, and the international Black community.
Her scholarship includes 21 books of poetry, hundreds of additional poems, 12 children’s books, seven edited books, eight books of nonfiction, as well as dozens of uncollected pieces. Her work has been included in prestigious venues including the National Civil Rights Museum and the book "The 100 Best African American Poems." Her work has frequently appeared on The New York Times bestseller list.
Her work "The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998" earned an American Book Award, the Juneteenth Freedom Award, and a Literary Excellence Award. Her book "Rosa" earned Book of the Month, the Caldecott Honor Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award, and the Best Children’s Book of the Year award.
Giovanni has been named a featured poet or artist, artist in residence, hall of fame inductee, or distinguished poet by at least 50 organizations and institutions. She has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree by more than 30 colleges and universities.
Giovanni was named Woman of the Year by Ebony Magazine, Mademoiselle Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. Additional honors include the Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award, the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, the 50 Great African-American Women Award, the 25 Living Legends designee, the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award, the N.A.A.C.P. Image Award, and six other lifetime achievement awards. She also recieved the United States Senate Certificate of Commendation.
At Virginia Tech, Giovanni was named the first Gloria D. Smith Professor of Black Studies until she became a University Distinguished Professor in 1999.
In the classroom, she taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses ranging across the English curriculum. She created the Giovanni-Steger Poetry Prize, which is the largest annual national undergraduate poetry award in the country, awarded annually to undergraduate poets from a range of majors in a world class ceremony.
Giovanni received her bachelor’s degree from Fisk University.